How Netflix plans to enforce its password sharing crackdown

3 Feb 2023

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The streaming service revealed how it will likely rein in account sharing, which has not been well received by many users.

Netflix has faced a wave of controversy after it revealed its plan to stop users sharing accounts.

Last year, the streaming service first revealed its plans to monetise account sharing. The company said it was trialing these upcoming features in several countries in Latin America.

But this week, the FAQ pages for multiple countries were updated to show what these updates will likely be once they’re rolled out worldwide.

The measures are currently only applicable in Peru, Chile and Costa Rica. A Netflix spokesperson told The Guardian that this post was accidentally rolled out to the help centres of other countries, and has since been updated.

What are the measures?

Based on the rules applying to these Latin American countries, Netflix plans to have users define a “primary location” from their account, such as their home of residence.

Any device that is using this account must then connect to the primary location’s Wi-Fi and watch something at least once every 31 days. Devices that fail to do so will be blocked from accessing the account.

If a user wants to share an account with someone who lives outside their primary location, they need to be added to the account as an extra member, which costs an extra monthly fee for the account holder.

The extra member will have to still create their own account and password to access the main account.

While the price for adding new members will likely vary for each country, it currently costs roughly $3 a month in Costa Rica to share an account this way.

Why is Netflix introducing these measures?

Netflix said last year that its short term goals were to “reaccelerate revenue growth” by improving monetisation features and cracking down on password sharing between multiple households.

The company has previously estimated that its service is being shared to more than 100m homes that are not directly paying for it, making it “harder to grow membership in many markets”.

The streaming service also launched a cheaper subscription option with advertising in several countries last year. Netflix hopes that this measure, combined with the password sharing crackdown, will help draw in more viewers and revenue.

When will these measures be rolled out to other countries?

Netflix hasn’t provided a date for when it plans to launch these measures to crackdown on password sharing. However, the streaming company previously said it plans to roll these measures out early this year.

Netflix has already taken steps to prepare users for the arrival of these rules. Last October, the company rolled out a profile transfer feature ahead of this password sharing crackdown, in order to let users leave an account they’ve been sharing without losing any data.

What has the response been from users?

Unfortunately for Netflix, many users have expressed dissatisfaction with the potential new rules.

Comparison site JohnSlots claims Google searches for ‘Cancel Netflix account’ rose by 733pc worldwide after Netflix revealed the upcoming measures. JohnSlots said this data was gathered from Google Trends.

A spokesperson for the comparison site said this update may be the “last change” that convinces users to delete their Netflix accounts, combined with rising subscription costs and controversial show cancellations.

“Netflix themselves have already admitted that they expect to lose subscribers from this change, but they might not have anticipated just how bad the fallout might be,” the spokesperson said.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic